Clean beauty brand Herbivore is kicking off April by focusing on mental health.
Herbivore has launched a month-long gift-with-purchase partnership with digital mental health platform Real.
The partnership is based around Herbivore’s new Aquarius Cleanser for acne-prone skin in a campaign called “Be Kind To Your Pores + Be Kind To Yourself.” The cleanser launched in mid-March, with cross-promoted social posts going live, as well as a social media giveaway. In April, every cleanser purchased on HerbivoreBotanicals.com will receive a one-month complimentary membership to Real, worth $24. Real provided an unlimited number of memberships to Herbivore at no cost to the brand.
Herbivore has partnered in the past with LGBTQ teen mental health non-profit The Trevor Project. Additionally, when Roe v. Wade was overturned by the Supreme Court in 2022, Seattle-based Herbivore was one of several brands to announce it would provide extra support for affected employees. Specifically, it introduced travel and accommodation expenses for all benefit-enrolled employees to obtain abortions if the procedure is not available in their state.
“We’re seeing within skin care on social media an element of skin positivity and showing what real skin looks like. Our Aquarius cleanser is for blemish-prone oily skin,” said Betsy Han, vp of brand marketing at Herbivore. “[Beauty and mental health] go hand-in-hand, because it’s a toxic cycle where you’re having acne and breakouts, and constantly thinking negatively about it and it’s affecting self-esteem.”
In 2019, Herbivore raised $15 million in Series A funding. It was led by Silas Capital, which also backed clean skin-care brand Ilia before its Famille C Venture acquisition. In 2020, former Bare Minerals CMO Sandy Saputo was appointed CEO before leaving that same year. WWD reported then that Herbivore earned $50 million in retail sales for 2019.
Han said the objective for Herbivore was to build brand equity, drive sales for the new cleanser and capture new customers. The team is currently considering a post-purchase survey to ask whether the partnership boosted positivity or whether someone found it useful.
Meanwhile, Real will look to capture new customers and expand brand awareness given its first-month free offer. Real operates by having people take a survey to document their mental health needs during an initial onboarding process. They are then served video content on topics like managing anger, relationships and anxiety. Ariela Safira, CEO and founder of Real, described it as a Spotify or Peleton model for mental health care. Real has previously partnered with companies like Bumble and Athleta. Safira declined to share how many subscribers, called members, the company has.
Herbivore is not the first skin-care brand to delve into the mental health conversation. Selena Gomez’s Rare Beauty brand launched a $100 million fund to combat mental health problems related to loneliness in 2020. In the same year, Maybelline created Brave Together, a philanthropic platform through which the brand will invest $10 million over the next five years to mental health organizations worldwide. Men’s grooming brand Bevel also offered one-month free passes to the meditation app Headspace in 2020.
“Health care is pretty disassociated from the media and from brands, and yet media and brands are what [influences] our mental health,” said Safira. “They spend more time with us than any mental health care system does. If we want to make a dent in mental health care, we need brands who speak to people daily, leading by example.”
Aside from the gift-with-purchase, Herbivore and Real are cross-promoting across social media. A recent example post includes tips for “practicing gratitude” toward one’s skin. Herbivore also recently tapped acne-positive influencers like Izzie Rodgers (@IzzieRodgers; 214,000 Instagram followers) for its own content creation. Further, Herbivore is publishing mental health-focused blog posts on its website, while Real will publish its own posts via Medium on beauty and mental health topics.
Editor’s note: A previous version of this story referenced a 4% increase in Herbivore Instagram followers. The 4% figure reflected Real’s following, not Herbivore’s.